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The Subversive Librarian: Creating Lifelong Readers

Post by Beth Gerall
Posted June 26, 2013 in Kids & Book News, NoveList K-8 Plus

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Summer is upon us and if you are in a public library you are knee-deep in summer reading programming. This is an important opportunity to help connect kids to great books – books they will read, love, come back to, and want more “just like.” This is a chance for public librarians to instill in kids that reading can be for pleasure, for entertainment, for escape – and not necessarily because the book is assigned or fits a unit of study.

During the school year, assigned reading and the demands of Common Core don’t leave much time (if any) in the school day for pleasure reading. Don’t get me wrong, Common Core has a strong reading component, but the focus is on learning to read, understanding content, and applying information learned in texts; it is not about growing readers or encouraging voluntary reading. So whether it is summer break or during the school year, more and more public librarians are playing a major role in helping kids find books to read for leisure and recreation. Voluntary reading is falling more and more to time outside of school. Public librarians make a difference just by making reading suggestions and offering up some different options.

Recently, one of the NoveList staff, Cassi, told me about her childhood experience where a librarian regularly had a delicious stack of books waiting for her at the circulation desk. The book on top was something related to her current assigned reading, the books on the bottom for pure enjoyment of reading. It was the extra attention to books that she might like that “instilled a need to read everything I could get my hands on that persists to this day.”

I know many of us are worried about kids not having enough time to read fiction, but really we need to be concerned with helping kids learn to love reading and encouraging them to become life-long readers. Whether we help them find nonfiction or fiction, we have to point them to interesting, engaging books that will keep them reading for their own enjoyment throughout their lives.

Beth Gerall is the Juvenile Content Lead for NoveList.